Here is the improved cover for my second book, which will be available again as soon as it passes through Createspace checks. This piece is one of my very favorites, and it depicts Rowan sitting by the Wysteria ocean at sunset.
Tools used to create this:
Colored pencils and imagination.
Hello everyone, and thank you for visiting my website!
The adventure of kitty continues when he and Peter discover the library’s cozy, eclectic attic. Keep checking back to read more about the story of a writer cat and his friend 🙂
I also happen to be on Deviantart:
Book Review of Aria of The Sea by Dia Calhoun
Review By Stella Brians
Several months ago, I found this book at a library book sale and was intrigued by the whimsical yet old fashioned cover art. It is beautiful hard bound book, and the particular copy that I have is pretty rare.
I meant to review this book back in July, but things became busy and hectic.
Aria of The Sea is a book about a girl of thirteen, Cerinthe. Cerinthe is reeling from the death of her mother, and wants very much to become a dancer (ballet) and to become educated at The School of The Royal Dancers in Windward. She has a great deal of trouble getting in, and when she thinks that she does not, she decides to work as a maid, or “smudge” for the dancing school.
Eventually, she is able to attend the school as a dancer, but a spoiled girl who also studies there called Elliana does not want her to feel welcome. Throughout the novel, Elliana tortures, belittles, and manipulates poor Cerinthe. Cerinthe has to deal with many emotions and troubles for a thirteen year old. She is homesick, and misses the seaside where she lived with her parents. Her father is a fisherman, and it seems to me that they do not have a close relationship. She wants very badly to do well as a dancer, and is always so exhausted. Her teachers are rarely friendly, and worst of all these things, she blames herself for her mother’s death.
In this poetic, dreamlike fantasy world that Dia Calhoun has created, young people have more freedom than they do in ours. Cerinthe attends the school completely alone, and without any (or very little, at least) contact with her father. She walks around the city alone. Another relationship Cerinthe is assaulted with, is with a boy around her age. His name is Thordon, and he works with ships in the harbor. He is not very nice, or interesting, despite his beautiful name. Thordon also turns out to be manipulative in the end.
Despite her missing her family and home, Cerinthe designs a beautiful dance which she called Aria of The Sea, in honor of her deity, The Sea Maid. She writes it so that she may hear The Sea Maid sing to her again, but nothing seems to be working. Anyway, Elliana ruins the dance, by taking it from Cerinthe and using it for disgraceful ends.
All of these events lead up to a very important choice that Cerinthe must make. She has the gift of healing, but she is not aware of this fact until she meets with a healer who insists that she should study with them instead.
But Cerithne loves dancing, and must make a choice, She must stop blaming herself for her mother’s untimely death, and at thirteen take the path that is truly right for her.
Dia Calhoun’s writing is very special, because she writes in her own very individual way that is gentle, whimsical, and very sincere. I truly felt that I was there at the ballet school, and amongst the waves of the ocean. I felt connected to the novel and to Cerinthe, and I think that anyone who has ever identified as different in some way will feel the same.
Aria of The Sea is a novel ideal for any age.
I now own and look forward to reading its sequel: The Phoenix Dance.
In 1989, I was born in Hartford Connecticut to two really smart and creative people. Early on, I wanted to write and create books. I briefly tried acting and ballet, but what I really wanted to do was to write and eventually create art. We moved to Norwich in the very early nineties, where I spent a great deal of time at the Otis Library. It was the coolest place to me back then, especially before the renovation. I love old buildings, because of the history and architecture but also because I find them so interesting. There is a sense of mystery to them that I can’t always put into the words I would quite like to.
We were friendly with the librarians, and familiar with the children’s section. There was a cave, and a wall mural featuring a wizard, knight, and princess standing before a castle in the distance. The Otis Library had one of the finest young adult collections I have ever seen (although it is different now I suspect.) They had the original Three Investigators Series, The Escape to Witch Mountain books, all of The Hardy Boys books, as well as the Cherry Ames Nurse Series. There were many others, and I spent so much of my childhood immersed in these books. The Otis Library had the best activities for children, and the librarians were always so kind.
Recently, I read online about something called The Jim Lafayette Writers Series for science fiction and fantasy writers. I had no idea that this event had been going on for a decade, and I really wish that I had known because I would have loved to be a part of it in some way. Jim Lafayette was a young man who passed away at age 26 due to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Disease.
He spent a great deal of time reading and writing science fiction, and this allowed him to escape being confined to his wheelchair. I was deeply moved by his story, the story of such an intelligent and creative person whose life ended far too soon. Jim graduated from Norwich Free Academy (the same school as myself) in 1995. He then went onto Connecticut College and graduated with honors in English. His parents donated his large science fiction collection to The Otis Library, which I found fascinating. I myself have looked through the science fiction and fantasy section there myself and might have come across his books.
I find Mr. Layfayette’s legacy very touching because he was a writer like myself and also sketched as I do. I had no idea that this very cool person once existed in the town of Norwich, CT that I grew up in. I wish I had known a long time ago. He is also inspiring to me because although he had a handicap, he went to school and studied what he loved. He immersed himself in reading and writing science fiction, and also wrote a weekly video game review for The Norwich Bulletin.
In my own ways in life I have struggled, of course, very differently and much less severe than Jim Layfayette. My depression and anxiety have made things very difficult for me, and my writing and art are a way for me to express myself and share my life in a positive way with others. My goal is to turn what troubles me into something beautiful instead– be it a book, a painting, or a drawing.
The yearly event features writers of the science fiction and fantasy genres, but this time was different. This time song and performance was incorporated with the literature being read as I understand it. I very much hope to attend this event in the future. Thank you to the Otis Library and to others for keeping his memory alive.
To Learn More About The Jim Layfayette Writers Series:
Roadside by Angie Dokos, a Book Review
by Stella Brians
Ms. Dokos was kind enough to send me a copy of her book for an honest, and well thought out review.
Roadside is a romantic novel about a young woman who is assaulted and left for dead in the woods. She is then discovered by Levi, a detective, and his son Zayne. Her name is Serena, and she is a college student who works at a convenience store. Serena managed to fight off her attacker (who is later identified) and crawl to the edge of the road where she is found and rescued.
What I liked about Roadside was the packaging; the cover was simple and cute, and it remained tasteful in that aspect, while other romance novels tend to show naked people clinging to each other in some kind of ridiculous embrace.
Roadside was different. The lovable macaroni and cheese orange font, complete with heart and a calming photo of a nice road surrounded by trees was a refreshing change. Another thing I liked was that the novel kept you interested in the characters, Serena’s recovery, the discovery of her attacker, and her relationship with Zayne. These four factors lead the plot until the end, which is a very positive thing.
What I did not like about the story was the writing style, because it felt a bit rushed and that it needed more work. I wish that the characters were older, and not college aged because they seem a bit immature and silly and that took away from the story for me. The last thing I did not like was the constant mention of religious elements, and how it seemed to control how the characters acted and what they did. I am also not a fan of novels that take place in the South, but that is a personal preference and should not impact future readers views of this book.
Overall, Roadside is a great book for young people, and Ms. Dokos did a remarkable job engaging the reader throughout the book.
To Purchase Roadside:
by Frances Laskowski
by Stella Brians
Horror has always been one of my favorite genres, so I was excited to read Balloon Man by Frances Laskowski. Set in Louisiana in present day, Laskowski tells the story of multiple people who together are all a part of Cooter’s (Balloon Man) story as a torturer and killer. She also tells the tales of all who are affected by him, and how they are able to survive and live a more positive life after Balloon Man puts them through the wringer. He is a filthy low life who hangs around a massive alligator known as Pyrrain, and kidnaps children by enchanting them with colorful balloons. I really enjoyed Balloon Man because in the ways of the women’s torture and survival it reminded me of my beloved V.C. Andrews. Laskowski has her own way of leading one chapter into the next, so that you are excited to make your way through the story. I can say that this is a great book for any time of the year. It would make a great beach read, a story for Halloween, or something to take with you on a long train ride! I look forward to reading more of Laskowski’s work. Something really unique to the Balloon Man novel, is that Frances wrote a song for the story.
You can listen to it here:
To Purchase Balloon Man for Kindle, Paperback, or as an Audiobook:
Readers and Fans of The Hidden World of Wysteria Series, I have a special announcement!
River and Elizabeth will return as the main characters in the fourth book (and very likely in the other books as well!)
River is one of my favorite characters, and I wanted to write more about he and Elizabeth. I think that the series should focus more on them, now that we have explored other characters and areas of Wysteria. I have really enjoyed writing about Milo and Rowan (Book Two) and the Edgar and Aleka (Book Three) but I feel there is something missing. I have put something speacial into each of my characters–Milo has a kind and creative heart, Rowan, a wise soul. You will find Edgar and Aleka to be unique and fun, and I think many will find comfort in their identities.
River and Elizabeth are each a part of me, in personality, insight, and eccentricity. It is time to revisit them.
I am still working on the third book–Beneath Rain and Stars, and it will take a while for it to be finished. I estimate it to be longer than Wysteria. What I like about it, is how at peace it makes me feel. It reminds me of home, and it has so much to do with my love of the Earth. If you love the Earth as I do, or are an introverted person who loves afternoon walks in the rain, Beneath Rain and Stars is for you.
I really look forward to its release, and to starting work on the fourth book in The Hidden World of Wysteria Series. I have some exciting things planned for the fourth, and even a working title.
Thank you to those who read and buy my books. My writing and artwork is in many ways my life force, and through it I share so many things of myself. Thank you for sharing this with me.
To Check out Stella’s Hidden World of Wysteria Series:
The Hidden World of Wysteria Book Trailer
by Stella Brians
Getting Into the Very Soul of Your Book
Just a Few Writing Ideas
Article by Stella Brians
From experience, I think that it’s best to write what we know, or that we can easily research. Growing up in New England, I always thought that it was so boring to live in the middle of nowhere. Later on in life I of course realized that this was not the case. I took what I knew from my historical neighborhood, loneliness, and rain and turned it into inspiration. Where I was from and who I was became fascinating. I love myself because I was unique and special.
When I write, I try to take what surrounded me in the past and what I hold onto in the present.
Rain. Where I grew up, there was always rain. I love the rain, and feel depressed when it’s sunny. In the worlds I create and live in as an author, it is usually autumn and nearly always raining. This leaves a calm backdrop for characters, and for the reader. Often my characters are going through an ordeal in my stories and the rain is therapeutic.
Remember the way it used to be.
Modern life is pretty depressing and boring at times, because everything is done for us. I like to think back to a time when phone booths existed, people read paperback books, and computers were not such an integral part of life. There was a time when you had to be careful driving through Father Panik Village in Bridgeport, CT, and when people stuck needles in the change drop of phone booths. When I write, it’s like taking a time machine back to before I was born, because I can research that, and there are certain things that I remember. There are songs that stick in my head from certain times that set the mood for my childhood.
Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back To Me Now played all the time on the radio, and I would hear it in the car or wherever we were going. It reminds me of being about seven years old, and sitting in the back of my parents’ station wagon. It is an incredibly sincere and romantic song, and I think that coupled with her voice certainly had an effect on me. I am sure that you have had this happen to you, perhaps in a different way or with another song. When I hear that song, I can remember Harkness Park and The Book Barn in Connecticut because it was likely playing in the car on the way over. It is these moments in life that help us develop a sense of what makes us personally happy. This is one of the many little pieces that aid us in our personal development as an author. Memories, and things that make only us happy for a reason no one else understand. All I can say is to write about it, and somehow incorporate it into a character or a story.
Writing your characters in a very sincere way, and writing a detailed story.
Life is very detailed, and modern film dilutes and speeds up everything. I have noticed that some people write in this same fashion, and it’s one of the first things that will make me put a book down.
Reading Anne Rice taught me how important it is to sweep your reader away with detail and completely submerge them in your world. If describing a scene, building, or setting takes a week it is time worth spent.
Characters are fun, and it is good to branch out and use not only pieces from yourself but of other people as well. My brother’s friend who wore purple Converse hightops, our neighborhood cat lady who doubled as our school lunch lady, and the eccentric stained glass towers of the Victorian houses in our neighborhood are a few examples of unique world and character building. Make it your own and always your own.
Finally, immerse yourself in the world(s) you are writing about, and your favorite character.
Listen to the sound of rain whether recorded or from an open window.
Wear the same kind of shoes your favorite character would.
Visit a place from your childhood, and put it into your story.
Make a mixtape of songs that remind you of being seven years old.
The Possibilities and creative ideas are endless.